Free Will Storage – Safe, Secure, Convenient
Coles Miller clients benefit from free storage of their wills in secure, fireproof strongrooms – backed up by:
- paper copies at secure offsite warehouses
- a paper copy in your client file
- digital copies backed up on multiple secure servers
- a photocopy for you, so you always have instant, easy access to your will when you need to review it.
Why You Must Store Your Will Safely
If your will is lost, stolen, or destroyed, it may not be possible to probate (prove) the will. This can lead to a number of problems, including:
- Delay in the administration of your estate. Without a valid will, the process of distributing your assets may take longer than if you had a valid will in place.
- Disputes among your beneficiaries. Without a clear set of instructions in your will, your beneficiaries may disagree on how your assets should be distributed, leading to costly and time-consuming disputes.
- Unintended distribution of your assets. If you do not have a will, your assets will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. This may result in your assets being distributed to people you did not want to benefit – or in a manner that is not in accordance with your wishes.
To avoid these problems, it is important to store your will in a safe place, such as with a solicitor. If your will is lost, stolen or destroyed, you should consider making a new will as soon as possible to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
Risks Of Storing Your Will In A Bank
There are several potential dangers in using a bank to store your will, including:
- Loss or damage. There is a risk that your will could be lost or damaged while it is in the bank’s possession.
- Unauthorised access. There is also a risk that your will could be accessed by someone other than the intended recipient, such as a bank employee.
- Delay in probate. If your will is stored at a bank, it may take longer to locate and retrieve the will when it is needed for probate. This could delay the administration of your estate. Never store your will in a bank safety deposit box. That is because when you die, the bank can't open the box until the executor gets probate (permission from the court to administer your affairs)…but probate can’t be granted without the will.
- Fees. Some banks may make a charge for storing your will.
In England and Wales, it is not a legal requirement to store your will with a bank or other financial institution. You are free to store your will wherever you choose, as long as it is in a safe and secure location.
Danger Of Storing Your Will With An Unregulated Will Writer
Some unregulated will writers charge fees for storing your will as a way of offsetting the discounts they offer to hook you in. And over the years those fees soon mount up!
There are several potential dangers to using an unregulated will writer to store your will, including:
- Lack of protection. Unregulated will writers are not subject to the same regulatory oversight as solicitors and other regulated professionals. This means that if something goes wrong, you may not have the same level of protection as you would if you had used a qualified solicitor.
- Lack of expertise. Unregulated will writers may not have the same level of knowledge and expertise as regulated professionals, and may not be able to provide you with the same level of service.
- No legal duty of care: There is a risk that an unregulated will writer may not act in your best interests.
It is not a legal requirement to use a regulated will writer – such as a solicitor – to prepare your will. However, it is generally considered to be safer and more reliable.
Solicitors are subject to strict professional regulations and codes of conduct, and are required to carry professional indemnity insurance, which provides added protection and peace of mind.
Overall, it is generally recommended to use a regulated lawyer to prepare your will to safeguard your assets and ensure that your wishes are carried out according to your instructions.
Disadvantages Of Using A Professional Will Storage Company
There are a few potential downsides to using a professional will storage company:
- Cost. Will storage companies typically charge a fee for their services. This cost may be a deterrent for some people.
- Accessibility. Your will may not be as quick and easy to retrieve when needed urgently.
- Security. While will storage companies generally take steps to protect the documents they hold, there is always a risk of loss or damage, whether due to natural disasters, fire or theft.
- Limited availability. Will storage services may not be available in all areas, which could make it difficult for you to use them if you don’t live in a location where they operate.
Furthermore, it makes sense to store your will with the solicitors who will be advising you. This gives you all the necessary security, the convenience of easy access – and it is free with Coles Miller if you are a client.
Dangers Of Storing Your Will At Home
This is very risky, even if you use a fireproof strong box. Yes, they can protect against fire and smoke fumes (and the water used to put out the blaze).
And in theory, they should deter thieves. But what if the thief is someone you know with access to the strong box? What if they read your will and don’t like the terms – what if they’ve been written out or are destined to receive a lower-than-expected share?
It is not unknown for disgruntled potential beneficiaries to destroy an unfavourable will so that the testator (the person making the will) dies intestate. This would then giving the perpetrator a larger share under the intestacy rules.
If your will is stored at home and is lost or destroyed, it may be difficult or impossible for your wishes to be carried out after your death.
If you lose your will at home, you could die intestate – you have no protection. If the will was stored at another location and is lost, a photocopy may still be legally admissible for probate.
Additionally, if your will is stored at home, it may not be easily accessible to those who need to locate it after your death, which could cause delays and complications in the probate process.
So it is generally recommended that you store your will in a secure location to ensure that it is safeguarded and can be easily located when needed.
What If You Lose Your Will? Presumption Of Revocation
If you lose your will, it is considered to be revoked (cancelled) in the eyes of the law. This is known as Presumption Of Revocation.
If you die without having made a new will (and if no older will can be found), your estate will be divided according to the rules of intestacy. This means that your assets will be distributed to your next of kin in a predetermined order, rather than in accordance with your wishes as stated in your will.
Where Coles Miller Stores Your Will For Free
As we mentioned earlier, we store wills extremely securely:
- in a fireproof strongroom at either our Poole or Bournemouth office
- backed up by a copy at one of our secure warehouses in Poole and Broadstone
- further backed up by digital copies on secure servers
- we send you a photocopy of your will with recommendations on who to tell and what to do next to ensure probate goes as smoothly as possible.
Get Expert Legal Advice On Wills And Probate
Need more information? Get expert legal advice on making or reviewing your will, probate and estates, Inheritance Tax and trusts.
When considering your will, it is also important to think about matters such as care home funding and powers of attorney. Where loved ones have lost mental capacity, we can help with matters involving the Court of Protection and the Office of the Public Guardian.
For more information, contact Coles Miller’s Probate Department. The team includes solicitors accredited by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and Solicitors for the Elderly.
Get in Touch
Meet The Team
Coles Miller Consultant
Partner and Head of Wills & Probate
Trainee Legal Executive (ACILEx)
Trainee Legal Executive
Private Client Executive